Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:08 pm on 29th July 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Falkner of Margravine Baroness Falkner of Margravine Non-affiliated 6:08 pm, 29th July 2020

[Inaudible.]—a gruelling session since we came back at Easter. Before I turn to my brief remarks, I declare my membership of the Bank of England’s Enforcement Decision Making Committee and put on record that my remarks are entirely personal and have no relation to the work of the committee.

Like other noble Lords, I welcome these regulations and I am pleased that we have finally got here. I also think that the three priorities detailed as the most egregious, thus meriting sanctions, are right. However, I am a little disappointed by the narrowness of the FCO priorities. I suspect that they reflect the FCO’s strategic thinking rather than the development angle, as those working in development will recognise that poverty is at its deepest when corruption goes unchecked. In these countries, insidious levels of corruption aid and abet criminality. As criminality is unchallenged, due to the paucity of state resources—often stolen by those in power—so human rights abuses take place, often on an industrial scale.

Will the Minister turn to what we can do in the UK about white-collar crime? We know of the reputation of the City of London as a laundromat for dirty money washing and, while we are rightly proud of our regulatory framework, including the Senior Managers Regime where individual accountability goes further than in any EU country, we know too that our global legal accountancy consultancy firms appear to be complicit in the whitewashing of corporate accounts across the world, particularly in Russia, which Bill Browder has done so much to expose. Will the Minister suggest to his colleagues in Her Majesty’s Treasury that they need to call in people from the City and take another look at the grey areas in the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 to see what needs to change to make its provisions more effective?